Cannabidiol (CBD) is a member of an important class of naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids that are found within the cannabis plant. Cannabidiol is of unparalleled importance to medical science, arguably even more so than its more famous (or infamous) sister compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Why Is CBD so Medically Useful?
THC is an agonist of the cannabinoid receptors, i.e., it produces a biological response by binding to the receptor and activating it. Agonists of cellular receptors are not rare in nature; however, CBD is one of the very few antagonists of the CB-receptors known to science. The body produces its own cannabinoid agonist, anandamide, but produces no known antagonists. As an antagonist, CBD exerts no psychoactive effect—unlike THC, which causes a range of cognitive and psychomotor effects. Thus, CBD has the added benefit of being medically useful to a wide range of potential patients for which THC could present problems, including pets, children and psychologically vulnerable adults.
CBD for Household Pets
There are now various CBD-rich products available for pets, particularly cats and dogs. Many of these products make unsupported claims about efficacy and utilization that, in some cases, fell afoul of the FDA’s drug licensing laws. However, the better-quality vendors can generally be trusted to supply their customers with products that are made to high standards and sold without unnecessary jargon. Their efficacy still remains up for debate—there is still a great paucity of clinical data on cannabis and cannabinoids, but abundant preclinical data suggests that CBD can be an effective treatment for a wide range of conditions in animals, sensationalist claims aside. For example, a 1984 study on cats with glaucoma demonstrated that administration of CBD reduced intraocular pressure without toxicity. Multiple studies demonstrated anti-epileptic effects in dogs, cats, rats and mice, and many of the preclinical research into CBD and cancer is conducted on mice and rats (although little data exists on cancer and CBD in cats and dogs).
CBD for Children
The demographic that potentially stands to benefit most from CBD is children. CBD clearly demonstrated on multiple occasions that it can have dramatic benefits in cases of intractable epilepsy, and in some cases, it enabled severely afflicted children to live almost entirely seizure-free. Already, several states throughout the U.S. that are not in favor of full legalization of medical cannabis have passed or debated CBD-only bills aimed at allowing children to access the medicine to relieve treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy, particularly Dravet syndrome, a severe and extremely debilitating type that strikes in early childhood. These states include Texas, Florida, Idaho, Missouri and others, and although the bills have received much criticism for their continued exclusion of THC, they nonetheless represent an important step forward in the march to legitimacy for medical cannabis in the more conservative areas of the country. Indeed, in many of the states in question, the production of CBD oil will be standardized and regulated by the state itself, meaning that the provenance and efficacy of the products available in such states should be good to excellent.
CBD for Adults
CBD has proven beneficial for a range of different conditions in adults. Again, limited clinical data is available attesting to this, although a plethora of preclinical research exists. From the existing research, it appears that CBD is likely most helpful in treating neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, psychosis, schizophrenia and various forms of epilepsy, including temporal lobe epilepsy. CBD also appears to have substantial ability to combat inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, acne, atherosclerosis and persistent allergies. Furthermore, CBD has shown on repeated occasions to exert tumoricidal effects in various types of cancer cell lines. Its mechanism of action appears to be vastly complex yet poorly understood, but researchers found that it directly induces cell death of tumor cells, inhibits growth of new cancer cells and prevents cancer cells from invading and metastasizing into new areas of the body.
General Considerations When Buying CBD Products
Beyond concerns over efficacy and provenance, the cost of many of these products is exorbitant, and the dose of CBD delivered per unit of cost is disappointing. However, of the products available, at least some are reasonably priced and of reliable provenance, and in some cases, lab tested with a full and concise breakdown of constituents.
Do your research: compare companies, look for customer reviews and be sure to make an informed decision!
As long as your chosen product is of good quality and provenance, there should be no harm in administering it to your pet, your child or yourself. Studies repeatedly show that CBD is remarkably non-toxic to humans and animals alike.